Why Teeth Whitening Is Safer At The Dentist's Office

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Teeth whitening is the most popular cosmetic service today, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. To meet this demand in popularity, there are many companies that provide over-the-counter (OTC) whitening products. While these products often have a great price tag, there's a real risk of whitening your teeth outside the dental office. Take a look at why you should avoid OTC whitening products and have teeth whitening done by a professional.

You Put Your Gums at Risk 

Since OTC products contain one-size-fits-all strips and/or trays, people are more likely to get peroxide product on their gums. When bleaching agent on gums, it can irritate and inflame the soft tissues in your mouth. In worst-case scenarios, the bleaching agent could be ingested and you could feel sick or even throw up. Gum sensitivity isn't a problem at the dentist's office because they will cover and protect your gums from the bleaching agents and customize the trays.

You May Overdo It and Not Know Until Symptoms Arise

Because OTC products have weaker whitening compounds and don't last as long as in-office whitening, there is a temptation to overcompensate. But over-bleaching your teeth puts you at risk for tooth sensitivity. After whitening too much, you may have extreme difficulty eating hot or cold foods.  

Furthermore, over-bleaching can cause your gums to recede. Receding gums can increase your risk of gingivitis, increase your risk of tooth decay because of exposed roots, and eventually lead to tooth loss if the problem isn't treated. People who already have dental issues like gum recession or cavities, may experience not only sensitivity but pain, from overdoing it.

In short, make sure you go to your dentist so he or she can prescribe the right whitening treatment for your situation.

The Wrong OTC Product Could Cause Discoloration

Underneath your white enamel, you have dentin, which is another component of your tooth and yellowish in its color. So if you over-bleach or choose a bad OTC product, it could strip away enamel, expose the dentin, and make your teeth appear yellow. Once your enamel has eroded away, it cannot be repaired without a restorative prosthetic.

Even if you don't over-bleach, choosing the wrong OTC product could cause discoloration if you have fluorosis. Fluorosis occurs when people ingest too much fluoride, their teeth hypomineralize and become mottled with whitish or grayish spots. When you bleach your teeth, these fluorosis spots can actually become even more prominent. A dentist can help you protect these areas and choose the right percentage of peroxide for your teeth.

OTC Products Make it Easier for Some People to Fall Prey to "Bleachorexia"

Because OTC products can be picked up at just about any grocery store, it can become easy for some people to become obsessed. In fact, some dentists have coined the term "bleachorexia." People who become obsessed with whitening put themselves at risk for developing conditions like body dysmorphia, a mental illness where a person may obsess about a small or even non-existent flaw in their looks. A dentist can help you find a reasonable tooth shade that will last a long time, so you won't have to obsess. 

For more information about the benefits of in-office whitening, contact dentists like Labowe Stuart DDS.